by Scott Champion – Erina Gonstead Chiropractor B.Sc., Grad.Dip.Chiro
If you asked the question, “what 3 things could you do to have a healthier life”, I think most people would have, “exercise more”, in that list. I also think most people would be thinking of mainly the cardiovascular benefits of exercise and/or the weight loss/maintenance benefits.
Certainly, there are also a bunch of other health benefits, including lowering your stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline, improving your muscle tone, maintaining bone density and improving your emotional wellbeing.
A very important benefit of exercise, possibly not so well understood by the average person, is the stimulation of your nervous system. Ok, I’m going to throw a couple of big words at you now, but bear with me. Receptors in the body called mechanoreceptors, send proprioceptive signals back to the brain. Mechanoreceptors are receptors that detect movement and position of the body and within the body. Movement and position detection is called proprioception. So proprioceptive signals are messages to the brain about the position of parts of the body and overall how the body is positioned in space.
So, let’s think about the significance of this. Healthy proprioception makes us less clumsy, less likely to fall and better balanced. And guess what. The more we challenge ourselves with a variety of movements, the stronger and more detailed proprioceptive signals are sent via the nervous system to the brain. This gives the brain more “data” to understand how to better adapt to our environment and how to respond to gravity better. Meaning, how to avoid falls, how to move more freely, how to avoid for example your “back going out” or spraining your ankle.
Another useful little body hack is that proprioception (position and movement signals) negates nociception (pain signals). What do you do if you bang your elbow? You rub it, right? Now here’s some news for you: Rubbing your elbow does not help your elbow in any way. The rubbing movement (proprioception) distracts you from the pain (nociception), so you feel better. Similarly, you will feel less pain generally if you exercise and move more.
So, what is the significance of this information? Well, if all you do is walk or say swim, that’s great exercise and really good for you in a bunch of ways. But if you add some extra. Maybe Tai Chi, yoga, dance, aqua aerobics or gym. Just some extra movement/ exercise that you don’t normally do. Your brain and body will love you for it.
Scott completed a Bachelor of Science degree majoring in anatomy at Sydney University in 1985 and a Graduate Diploma of Chiropractic at Sydney College of Chiropractic in 1988. After working as a busy associate in Mackay, North Queensland, Scott moved to the Central Coast and opened Champion Chiropractic Centre in 1993. Scott has been a Diplomat in the Gonstead System of Chiropractic since 1998. He was a board member of the Gonstead Chiropractic Society (Australia) for eight years, including four as secretary.